Emma is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating.
Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857.
It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi.'
This modern translation by Flaubert's biographer, Geoffrey Wall, retains all the delicacy and precision of the French original. The edition also contains a preface by the novelist Michele Roberts.
Flaubert was born in 1821. After illness ended a career in law, he retired to live with his mother and devote himself to writing. He achieved limited success in his own lifetime, but his reputation grew steadily after his death in 1880.